At the fag end of a year marked by demonetisation delivering a body blow to the box office and the absence of a major hit with the sole exception of Prosenjit-Rituparna starrer Praktan, Bengal’s favourite sleuths Pradosh Mitra aka Feluda and Byomkesh Bakshi have teamed up to script a late rescue act for Tollywood.
Sandip Ray’s Double Feluda and Arindam Sil’s Byomkesh Pawrbo were released on Friday, marking the first occasion in a 42-year history when the two detectives hit the screen simultaneously.
On the penultimate day of the year, a third detective, Kiriti Roy will join the duo.
Though the first Feluda film Sonar Kella was released in 1974 and the first one on Byomkesh Bakshi, Chiriyakhana (both by Ray), in 1967, with about 20 films in the following decades, this is the first instance when Bakshi and Feluda hit the screens simultaneously.
Going by the bookings in the first two days, trade pundits may have something to cheer in a damp year. Both the films are faring well at the box office with Feluda a step ahead of Bakshi so far. The pundits were anyway pinning their hopes on the thrillers to bring the cash registers to life.
“Feluda was way ahead on the opening day. Byomkesh Bakshi appeals more to the adult audience. But both the films have a clear one week run before Aamir Khan’s Dangal enters,” said Subhasis Ganguli, regional director (east), Inox.
According to Ganguli, Feluda has universal appeal, and with children accompanied by their parents queuing up to watch him, the crowd is bigger than those flocking to watch Byomkesh Bakshi.
Arijit Dutta, owner of Priya Cinemas, echoed the same sentiment. “Both the films have held their own on the first two days. The numbers will improve and the cash flow will increase,” said the industry veteran.
Director Arindam Sil sounded elated. The first show at Nandan of his Byomkesh Pawrbo was sold out fully. “I am glad that people buying tickets to watch the film even when the country is grappling with cash crisis,” he said.
Bengalis have always been fascinated by detective thrillers. Nandu Ahuja, senior vice president, India Theatrical, Eros International, the producer of Double Feluda, said that they timed the release keeping Christmas in mind. “It’s got a great opening. We are looking at increasing the number of shows as the demand grows,” he said.
Incidentally, 2016 is the golden jubilee year of Feluda, who was born in 1965 in the pages of Sandesh, a children’s magazine launched Ray’s grandfather Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury.
Those who watched Double Feluda said one should walk in early and stay back till the last roll as director Sandip Ray has designed the title cards in a way to pay tribute to the character in the landmark year.
The moot question now: will Nihar Ranjan Gupta’s creation Kiriti Roy add to the punch of Mitra and Bakshi. Keep watching.